Winter Climbing

Winter makes just about every route harder to climb than in the summer. The first winter outing is usually a humbling experience in comparison to summer expectations. The days are shorter, travel is slower, and routine tasks take more time. Allow for the short days: scale down your goals, get under way at first light, and carry a good head lamp.

You will need skis or snowshoes for support, except during the low snow of early season or the firm snow of late season. Whether you choose skis or snowshoes depends on your ability and the route. Are you a diehard skier who loves skis even if conditions are poor? Are you good enough to ski virtually any slope? Will you be moving along a broad ridge or logging road, which is good terrain for skis, or will you be traveling through forest and brush? Is the approach long but easy, where the speed of skis is a benefit? Will you encounter technical climbing, where skis would be more cumbersome to carry than compact snowshoes? Consult specialized texts on skiing or snowshoeing for details on equipment and techniques.

For additional information applicable to mountaineering in snow, see Chapters 4, 12, and 14.

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